At the Mahindra Group, we value our relations. As Mahindra completes 75 years this year, we got in touch with Rajeev and Raghav Narain, owners of Narain Automobiles, our first dealership.
Mahindra Correspondent: It’s been a rewarding 73 years of partnership with Narain Automobiles. Tell us all about it!
Rajeev Narain: It all started back in 1947. My grandfather was traveling to the US for business, by ship. As fate would have it, Mr. Mahindra met him – he too was traveling by the same ship, and I believe he was traveling for the Willy’s Jeep contract. They discussed business and Mr. Mahindra on realising that my grandfather was in the auto trade, offered him to take up the dealership when they would start to manufacture Mahindra vehicles. Obviously, it was a prestigious thing to represent an Indian company manufacturing an Indian product. So, in 1949/50 Mahindra’s first auto dealer agreement was signed by Keshub Mahindra. Ever since, there’s been no looking back.
We became the dealers for UP and the region that is currently known as Uttaranchal. To cover the region, we located and appointed 7-8 sub-dealers. Over time, as business grew, so did the sub-dealers, some of which also became independent dealers.
Mahindra Correspondent: What do you think is Mahindra’s greatest strength?
Rajeev Narain: I would say it is variety…since the very beginning. The variety in products has allowed customers to choose from a range. It has helped us during difficult times too – because we had a range, good sales happened throughout, even in times of market volatility.
Raghav Narain: Having said that, we have a longstanding partnership with the automaker because of several other aspects that we admire about the company – Mahindra’s initiatives and progressiveness for example. We’re proud to continue being part of the Mahindra family.
Mahindra’s ability to survey and respond to the market requirement is unmatched. I remember as the rural development started to increase, we saw more paved roads being built. The XUV300 was the perfect answer to the market demand.
Mahindra Correspondent: In partnership, there’s obviously always a business connect. Beyond business, do you feel any attachment towards Mahindra?
Rajeev Narain: Our partnership is not merely a transactional one. We do have a sentimental connect with the Mahindra family, and I believe it is due to the values, more than anything. The Group places a premium on relationships, and it reflects in their day to day dealings.
Raghav Narain: We admire the fact that dealers have access to the top management, of course only when required. There is mutual respect for each other and each other’s time; it is an unspoken rule between us that nobody will jump the gun.
Mahindra Correspondent: Any particular memory with Mahindra that you fondly remember?
Raghav Narain: I was much younger when the first Thar launched. I remember walking into my father’s (Rajeev Narain) office and a lot of work was happening. By the end of the day, a ramp and a platform were set up. I was obviously curious. The following day, I walked in to see a shiny, red Thar with chrome finish. The roll bars too were wrapped in leatherite. After much coaxing, I finally got a test drive of the car – being young, I wasn’t allowed to drive, but – even as a passenger, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!
Mahindra Correspondent: What about a memorable interaction with a Mahindra leader?
Rajeev Narain: This was back when Mahindra was considering moving away from the CL500. Rajesh Jejurikar, the current Executive Director of Auto & Farm sectors at the Mahindra Group, came down to Lucknow for a visit. He learnt that the CL500 was the largest selling vehicle in the region, since at that time, the vehicle was used as taxi – understanding the kind of roads, the low maintenance vehicle seemed to create the most value for money for taxi drivers and owners. Mr. Jejurikar also visited Sitapur and spoke with the Taxi Union Leader over a cup of tea.
He is an extremely down to earth person with no qualms about who he interacts with or where he sits – he sat on a regular bench with the Taxi Union Leader and spoke for hours, interacting with him more as a friend than as a leader of a big company. People remember and mention it even after years. And that is a commendable quality for a leader to have. Secondly, and we’ve earlier mentioned about the company’s ability to research about, listen to and address consumer needs.
Mahindra Correspondent: What is your company philosophy? Do you draw parallels between our philosophies?
Rajeev Narain: Without a doubt, we see so much similarity. Both companies value relationships, and I believe that has been the secret to our continued alliance.
Raghav Narain: Mahindra listens and is quick to make any corrections, factoring in feedback from dealers. I know that the Dealer Advisory Council are frequent and that is a testimony to the fact that the company is really invested in their stakeholders.
Mahindra Correspondent: This one’s a fun question. What is your favourite Mahindra vehicle? Why?
Rajeev Narain: (laughs) If I have to answer this as a dealer, my response will skew towards the bestselling vehicles, so – Scorpio and Bolero. If I had to pick a personal favourite, I would choose the XUV300, for its sturdiness and imposing design.
Raghav Narain: The XUV500 is really nice, but also since we youngsters fall for cars loaded with features, my pick is the Alturas.
As we celebrate 75 years, the Mahindra Group is humbled to share space with stakeholders who represent similar values and who are part of the bigger vision of enabling people and communities in the larger ecosystem, to Rise.